Vaccinated people should get back to normal

    I can’t remember reading another piece like this by a doctor over the past 15 months. The advice, uniformly, has been to be careful and err on the side of safety. Even after the CDC changed the guidance for vaccinated people and told them to get back to normal, many public-health experts on television have focused on the continuing risk to the unvaccinated and how it’s reckless to ditch mask mandates without requiring vaccine passports.

    Dr. Jeremy Faust has had enough. It’s time to be human again, he wrote for the Times this past weekend.

    Something changed on Dec. 13, 2020, the first day of coronavirus vaccinations in the United States. A nurse in New York received her shot on television, and as the footage looped over and over that morning, I became aware of an unfamiliar feeling: optimism. Later that evening, I watched a YouTube video of Mitsuko Uchida playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. For the second time in one day, tears were streaming down my face. Music and medicine were intertwined in my life once more…

    This is a call to return to the live performing arts. Please do so after you are vaccinated. More important, pursue the activities that make your life richer and that make you happy. Our collective vigilance has meant that many people guarded their own safety to such an extent that some are having trouble letting go, even after vaccination. I recently overheard a Zoom call between my parents and a group of their friends, who are all in their 70s. One of them said their book group would continue to be remote, for now. A couple said they would not be attending an in-person wedding in June. My heart sank.

    Everyone has been through so much. For almost a year, I frequently treated people who were very sick with Covid-19. Now I haven’t seen a serious case in weeks. The miracle of these vaccines, which have exceeded my wildest hopes, means that we can safely return to the things that make our lives whole. Buy a ticket to something, anything.

    Good, healthy, even stirring advice.

    On the other hand, what if you just don’t like people and have gotten used to not dealing with them over the past 15 months?

    A tough call for introverts everywhere.

    I think the “shy vaxxers” will warm up to more social activity — in fact, Gallup told us this morning that they are, however gradually — but the spread of the Indian variant in the U.S. may slow them down. David Leonhardt of the NYT, who’s spent the past month nudging liberals to chill out about masking outdoors, has a new piece today explaining why the variant is concerning. The mRNA vaccines do provide solid protection against it, it seems…

    …but the thing about the risk-averse is that any sense of a heightened threat is apt to cause them to hedge against it. There’s evidence that the variant is the most contagious of all known strains and also that it’s better at evading vaccine immunity than most other variants, the data above notwithstanding. “If hospitalizations or deaths in Britain rise over the next two weeks, there will be a strong argument for pushing back the full reopening of activities,” writes Leonhardt. “And that has obvious implications for the U.S., too.” One top British scientist has already called on the UK government to postpone the full easing of restrictions scheduled for June 21, noting that hospitalizations have risen over the past week and that even the fully vaccinated make up around four percent of new cases. He thinks B.1.617, the Indian variant, has already triggered a new wave in the country.

    “Everyone in the NHS at the moment is kind of terrified,” said another scientist to Sky News. Sigh.

    I’ll leave you with this group of vaccinated New Yorkers, outdoors, who are still masking up. Think they’re going to be buying tickets to something anytime soon? Exit quotation: “I shouldn’t be given the privilege to not wear a mask.” Uh, what?

    What are your thoughts on the story? Let us know in the comments below!

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